You know that bout of unwanted thoughts that invade you from out of the blue? That annoying urge to go far away from everything and just be alone. I have a lot of those. Especially on Monday mornings. I have nothing against Mondays. Actually, I kinda look forward to them. Mondays always breathe a new sense of being into me. Because you never know what will happen that week. You don’t know what weird man will honk at you as you take your routine 15 minute walk up that suburban Westlands road. You have no idea who you will bump into in the bus or on the street. Your employer may come up with a whole new way of doing things. You might even end up writing a post you had no idea you could in here. Your computer could decide this is the week it freezes a gazillion times between 9 and 5. The possibilities are limitless.
Today, I am feeling bad because I am still single. Yes. It happens. All the time. I always wonder how long this will go on. What my chances are of meeting someone while behind the keyboard for 3/4 of my days. The other 1/4 I am asleep of course. The thing about this feeling of desperation today is that it is different. It is different because I am no longer in campus. I am about a year old out here since leaving the great Moi University. That institution was quite something. If you frequent this space (or rather, the old blog) you know how I could go on and on and on about that institution.
What I never told you about my campus life is that it was the best place to be for a single lady. For a single lady who looked like she had it all figured out. A single lady who maintained that air of contentment and focus. A single lady who was considered light-skinned. Lol. Yes, in Eldoret I discovered I was light-skinned for the first time. I had never ever heard anyone tell me I was light in my 19 years of existence. Until I landed in Eldoret. Those Kalenjin matatu touts would say it. Random campus dudes would mention it. Mama mbogas outside our hostels would hint. Also, in Eldoret, you are not auntie, madam or smarta or any of those titles touts around Nairobi give you. You are mrembo, period. How is that for a boost in self-esteem every single day you step out of Hostel K? Once, a tout claimed that we ‘brown’ girls were very hard to tell apart. I almost laughed out loud. Like seriously. I was light-skinned in Eldoret. One wonders what they would call an actual light-skinned girl.
Anyway, I was telling you how awesome it is to be a single girl in campus. It is like you have a placard hanging on your front and back that says, ‘I am up for grabs! Hurry while stocks last!’ You see, never once in my campus life did I worry that I was single. Actually, if you look back to my musings from back then, I was pretty smug about it. I wrote 10 reasons I am single like it was a manual for anyone who wants to learn how to rock singleness. I told off a man I really liked simply because I did not feel I should settle for one guy. I was always full of advice back then, telling anyone who would listen how to deal with men. I even wrote a post about Ten Men for good measure. I was having it that good! I was so indifferent, I spent half my days in my room and the other half on my laptop at the faculty (or school as they are called in Moi.) It is then no wonder that all my stories happened in my room, mostly.
Picture this. Every Sunday evening, I’d have one man or two or three in my room. Sometimes, guys who did not know each other would meet in my room. They would just stop by unannounced. Always on Sunday. I don’t know if there was a memo I did not get about Sunday visits, but I know I had my fair share of concerned parties popping by for a chat. I’d just sit there and entertain them. I was a stingy one though. I only cooked for my boys. Anyone I call my boy is someone I met and loved from the onset, not in a romantic way or brotherly way but in a unique way. It is not friend-zoning. It’s just an unwritten pact between two people of the opposite sex. With my boys, we could agree who was cooking for who and when. With my boys, it was never awkward. We would sing along to music, talk about our potentials and while the night away over movies.
The problem with having ‘boys’ is that it is not as rosy as I am trying to paint it. It can place you smack in the middle of a tug of war between a girlfriend you always hear about and a man who was all along trying to see if you were fitter than the purported girlfriend. Other times, the girlfriend hates that the boy keeps mentioning you in their conversations. That is where you always know things will go south between them. The only time having a boy really works is when he is either searching himself, is hitched to your girlfriend and thus you act as a go-between in times of trouble and if he never ever mentions you in their private talks. Anyway, my boys and I are tight.
Even out of here, I have established a couple more. I have bumped into one at the bus stop the past two days. Like where in the world did you come from? I thought you were in Nakuru my boy! We go on and on about the good ol’ campus days. About how fast time is flying. About work. About relationships. My other boy, we are plotting out this venture together and we know it’s going to take off alright. The other day we were chased out of a mall in Westlands for hanging around kimalamala as he called it. I have not seen another in the longest time. I thought that giving him a flash disk would bring us together sooner. Well, not out here it won’t.
The other problem with having boys is that the first men in my life, read my dad and brother, do not believe in such a title. The other day I tell them how I go to movies once in a while with any of them and my dad uses a very bad word to express his opinion. Apparently, I cannot hang out in such places with men who are just friends. Sigh. Maybe they have a point? Anywho…
When I was in campus, a boy would become something close to a boyfriend every semester. Then when the two of us realized it could turn into something serious, one of us would run. Okay, I would run. Only one time the guy ran and I was destroyed. Distraught. Defeated. I was always on the giving end, never the receiving. Eventually, I left campus having rejected everyone. Most got hitched right in front of my eyes after I said no. Some even rubbed it in by visiting with the new catch. The last rejection was very hard and awkward. Everyone thought we were actually together. My uncle asked about him the other day and I was shocked. Apparently he felt some vibes when I introduced him on my last day in campus. :O
I was not single all through Moi University by the way. I was so in love in first year. In love with my first love. Everyone knew it. But it was long distance. Tiny stupid things like not replying to my texts used to hurt me. I never told him. One night, it got to me. I knew if I asked him he’d be all defensive so I didn’t. I remember seeing his status updates on Facebook and thinking what in the world was wrong with the part of his brain that made him type texts out to his girlfriend. Because clearly the one that typed up status updates was alive and well. I cried that night. I got into my bed way earlier than my bedtime and wept like a wounded child. I know my eyes were swollen. I know I pitied myself for crying over such a stupid thing. My roomie was not in. Somehow every year I got a new roomie in K 078 that was rarely in.
Someone was knocking at the door after a while. I remember I wished I had locked it and pretended not to be in. Some two usual suspects walked in, despite the fact that I did not acknowledge the knock. One was always the sweet-talker and the other was his shorter wingman, backing him up on every claim of bravado he threw at me. I had to pretend I was just from a long nap and that’s why my eyes were very swollen. He invited me for supper in his room, I declined. Not interested. He mentioned that my boyfriend was far away and I should forget about him. I almost cried again. But I was in love and I defended my love like he had just sent flowers via G4S. After over an hour of pointless cooing, they left. Almost on cue, the boyfriend called. He was very happy for some strange reason. I acted like nothing was up. They cannot tell anything is up on the phone. At least he was back and sweet. I could quit feeling unwanted. Many months later, it was over, because I hated feeling vulnerable like that. (As I was typing this, Maya Angelou passed on. RIP. He once told me to read Phenomenal Woman. Sigh. 🙂 )
Fast forward. Needless to say, it is very dry out here. Kalahari dry. It wasn’t for the first few months though. Those guys who left campus before me had been waiting so they were on my case asking me out and whatnot. But I kept being that same girl from campus that ringiad everyone. And they disappeared. So we are here now. That is why you do not see me writing about love anymore. Not because I do not believe in it but because I have chosen to focus on career first. Which is totally misguided. I think about relationships all the time. Marriage. Who I will marry. When I will meet him. What my parents will think.
I cannot afford not to think about it. Yesterday my boy emailed me that famous book by Meg Jay, The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now, she of that TED Talk I wrote about last year when I was making tough career decisions. She talks about how twentysomethings think they cannot do anything about their love lives as much as they can about their work lives. It’s not true. We have the power to determine what we want in relationships and when we want them. It’s quite an interesting book by the way, but that is a story for another day.
I am not saying I am desperate, neither am I saying that I am completely devoid of hope. Far from it. I am just coming to the realization that time is of the essence and I cannot put off important things because I think some other important things matter more. Balance. Out here, you will find couples who were very tight in campus breaking up, because we are probably too busy looking for jobs and stability. They will fall into place. Eventually.
I am still waiting for you. Even Janette…ikz waited and she is so engaged. I hope you have not passed by and I ignored you. If I have, it will probably dawn on me sooner rather than later. All the same, there is nothing like The One. I have learnt that.
(If you are reading this and you have been adversely mentioned, you must be used to it by now. The price you have to pay for being part and parcel of my life. Also, I know today is Wednesday but I typed the first two paragraphs last week, Monday. Then things just began to happen. I bumped into people. I told you Mondays are beautiful, didn’t I?)